The role of an injured worker is similar to that of someone in prison


The workcover system is an extremely confining system which consists mainly of repression— defined as the state of [the injured worker] being controlled (by force). Your income, health care, medical treatment and even ‘activities’ are controlled by a governing source (WorkCover and it’s agent). In fact there is virtually no freedom, very little flexibility and lots of surveillance.

The role of an injured worker is similar to that of someone in prison

To be an injured worker, trapped in the workcover system is extremely isolating and alienating. Once the injured worker ends up on the workcover system just about all semblance of control over the injured worker’s destiny is taken away! From being told what doctor/IME to see, what medical treatment can or can not be approved, what surgery they must or cannot have, how much home help they can have, when weekly payments cease, whether they can must return work, what type of work they must do etc.
Frankly, the truth is that the injured worker has no say during the life of the claim, or at least until settlement has been reached.

If that’s not enough, a (more) serious injury is a uniquely frightening and truly depressing experience. You have to try to deal with your injury, try to understand the level of your (permanent) damage & disability, make sense of the medical jargon/terminology and learn to re-invent yourself —the  injured worker has to establish a new personal identity – if any- having literally lost his/her pre-injury identity. Injured workers’ values and belief systems have been altered, and their belief that they can change the course of their future has been eroded.

In addition, for some seriously injured workers, the final diagnosis and prognosis (and ultimate settlement) may come long after the injury. And each medical visit, diagnostic study, procedure, surgery, referral, or medication must — of course — await approval by the workcover insurer.

The injured worker has undeniably very little choice in what transpires or its time frame. His/her anxiety turns to outright fear, which in turn leads to distrust and suspicion. If you ask any injured worker if they are uncomfortable with anyone involved in their care or claim, they will unquestionably refer to a long ‘list’ of those whom they definitely don’t trust.

We believe that,in a myriad of ways, the role of a (more seriously) injured worker is similar to that of someone in prison.

The injured worker’s individuality is lost only to be replaced by decisions which are made independent of the injured worker’s input. From what medical and like treatment you can or can’t have, to your return to work ‘plan’.

Your calls to your workcover case manager, employer, your specialist and even your lawyer are (often) slow to be returned and you soon realise that you are the only one feeling a kind of urgency. It starts to feel like all involved in your case have a life of their own and –definitely– different priorities.

Injured workers become passive-dependent and most become very isolated, making themselves and perhaps their families quite miserable.

Eventually, and sometimes all of a sudden, administrative closure of the injured worker’s claim (case) happens. The injured worker may have ‘achieved’ maximal medical improvement (injury stable and stationary), some settlement offer has been made (and reluctantly accepted), and they are — literally— clumsily extracted from the workcover system and are now free to go, like a released prisoner. But free to go where?

Quite often the injured worker suffers from a permanent disability and from chronic residual pain, and with reluctance, he/she is medicated with narcotics. After settlement it is also very common to suffer from severe depression.

If your case settled for the usual ‘peanuts’, (let’s say $100,000) this creates a major second concern. How are you going to survive and make ends meet long term? What employer is now going to employ you when you’re actually deemed unfit for work? We all know how hard it is to find work when suffering from a (more serious) pre-existing work injury.

Injured workers’ lives have been scheduled around medical appointments, including countless independent medical examinations, conciliation(s), legal appointments, and sometimes located far from home and taking up most of the day. How is the released-from-prison (aka workcover) injured worker’s time now to be spent?

The principal issue is that humans live by finding purpose to their lives. Despair arises from our failure to find a specific meaning to life, and purposeful activities to fill our days. Yet, the injured worker is released back into a world in which there may be no meaningful role.Yet no service is provided to equip and help or support the injured worker with the decisions that follow administrative claim closure.

“Life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone.”

[Article dictated by WCV and manually transcribed by WCV3]

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3 Responses to “The role of an injured worker is similar to that of someone in prison”

  1. This is oh so true. I have been in the Workcover grinder for many years now, and have been told I will never return to work and have obviously been put into the too hard basket. Every 3 to 4 months I get sent to see an IME only to be told the same thing Mr Me would be unable to sell his labor in the current market. I will then ring my case manager then ask, now what, they then tell me, we send you to an IME every so often to see what your work capacity is, this has been going on for 7 years. I feel like im in the passenger seat of my car driving on a country road hitting my head on every km post. I have always wanted to work and still do they paid big $$$$ on a head shrink to make myself realize that I will be able to work again. This proves the system works not. Many times I have rang my case manager an said Im not coping (after being told by him/her to ring anytime for help) only to be hand balled around the Dept, then ending up with a failed attempt on my life. Like being in Prison I would rather be in Prison at least they would find you something to do. I would just like to know what my future is not to be kept dangling, Im not really asking for too much.

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    • @Grumpy Pa
      I can empathise with you… I have just gone through a 3 week intensive course in Pain Management, only to be told that I was setting my goals too high… I not only want to work, I need to work… Sickness benefit isn’t much to live on, it doesn’t even cover the full mortgage each month. Luckily my kids get youth allowance so that keeps the bills paid and food on the table… but for how long…
      I guess at least they don’t keep sending me to IME’s, I’m pretty much left alone there… Probably because they have been advised I need to see a neurologist or neuro surgeon… By their IME’s…

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  2. I have always wanted to work and still do they paid big $$$$ on a head shrink to make myself realize that I will be able to work again.
    I apologize, it meant to read I will NOT be able to work again.

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